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    aquaponics and hydroponics system

    Aquaponics vs Hydroponics in Agriculture Management

    Every field of life has been revolutionized by the science and its advancements. Where everything is changing within a few seconds, growers and cultivators have been trying to devise soilless ways of growing fresh and healthy vegetables that could save them some space, money and time, and provide them with healthy and fresh food. The two soilless growing methods that are popular among gardeners and farmers and are widely used as well are aquaponics  and hydroponics. These two methods have revolutionized agricultural management.


    Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture which is the growth of aquatic animals particularly fish , and hydroponics (the process of growing plants without soil) in one recirculating environment. It combines fish and plant farming in a soilless system. The fish and plant components work together to create a profitable and efficacious farm.

    In aquaponics farms, fish waste water is utilized for the growth of plants because the water gets transformed by bacteria into fertilizer. The purified water left behind after the transformation procedure is then recirculated back to the fish and the process restarts.


    Hydroponics is a gardening method that allows for plants to be grown without the use of soil. It uses only chemical nutrients and water and grows plants without using soil. This technique has been widely used all around the world especially in the U.S. for growing basil, tomatoes, and lettuce.


    Both these methods work without using soil, however, a few primary differences between aquaponic and hydroponic systems make one method more preferable than the other one for some people and vice versa.

    Primary differences

    • Cost-effectiveness 

    Hydroponic systems work by using chemical nutrients, which can be very costly sometimes. The quantity of these nutrients has decreased in the past few years making their availability a little challenging. This has caused the prices to rise even more. On the other hand, the fish feed and the wastewater used in hydroponics, being readily available, are much more affordable and cost-friendly.


    • Hazards of the solution

    Hydroponic systems require a high concentration of nutrients in the water and that is how this method works, so the system tends to accumulate too much salts and chemicals to the point that the water becomes very toxic for the plants to grow. Therefore, the water needs to be disposed of regularly. On the other hand, the aquaponics system continuously replenishes the nutrients and maintains a perfect balance in the water.


    • Productivity of the two methods 

    The plant growth results seen with the aquaponic method are slightly more efficient and quicker when compared to a hydroponics system. Thus in aquaponics vs hydroponics, the productivity of aquaponics is better as compared to hydroponics.


    • Pesticides

    Insects in these systems are not that much of a problem but because of the lack of soil, certain insects like thrips and spider mites can still be a nuisance. For a hydroponic system, use of  pesticides is important in order to get rid of these insects and to protect the plants. However, such a problem does not exist in aquaponics systems and this method of growing plants requires non-chemical methods instead of pesticides to make sure that the fish aren’t harmed. 


    • pH

    pH of the water needs to be maintained in order to make sure that the plants grow well. When using a hydroponic system, the water should have a pH reading of 5.5-6.0, which is slightly acidic. On the other hand, the pH level in an aquaponics system should be right around 6.8-7.0, which is considered to be neutral and these pH levels are ideal for the growth of plants.


    • Maintenance of the methods

    An aquaponics system requires very little maintenance and on the other hand, in hydroponic systems the electrical conductivity of the water needs to be monitored on a regular basis. Thus maintenance of a hydroponic system is difficult as compared to aquaponic system.

    Other benefits of aquaponics:

    • Growth of  fish and plants in one system.
    • Uses much less water as compared to traditional farming.
    • Uses less space and grows crops in less time.
    • Removes the need for chemical fertilizers.
    • Produces high quality crops for any market (e.g. tourism, restaurants, supermarkets, etc.) Variety of plant species options (from romaine lettuce to specialty edible flowers).

    SIMILARITIES BETWEEN Hydroponics vs Aquaponics:

    Aquaponics vs hydroponics are closely related to one another and follow the same principles. There are many similarities between the two growing methods, and these are: 

    • Both are soilless growing methods.
    • Both rely on water in order to deliver nutrients to the plants.
    • Both growing methods can produce higher yields than the traditional soil growing method although the productivity varies from plant to plant.
    • Both methods can be set up indoors or inside a greenhouse so are easily accessible.
    • Both of these methods have prolonged growing seasons but because they can be grown indoors as well, this makes them suitable to produce all the plants throughout the year regardless of the season and time period of the year.
    • Because of their indoor growth, there is a very little to no impact on the environment because there is no weeds or pesticides exposure.
    • Both these methods help in faster growth of plants ; about 30-50% faster as compared to the traditional growing methods.

    Which of these is the preferred method? 

    Both the above mentioned methods have their own pros and cons and both prove to be efficient in growing plants without soil. Which method needs to be chosen among the two ? It totally depends on the resources you have access to. For example, if you aim to get the growing system up and that too in a lesser amount of time, hydroponic systems usually take less time to set up since you don’t have to worry about the growth of fish as well. If, however, you are more concerned about the costs and you want the work to be done at lesser costs, aquaponics may be the best option for you because of its cost effectiveness. In the end, your resources and goals matter the most.

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